They’re coming. It’s inevitable. They have yet to be approved in the the United States, but every year the news is the same: they’re coming.
High-sensitivity troponins have been both lauded and mocked from various perspectives. The literature is replete with examples of expedited rule-outs in the Emergency Department owing to their improved lower limit of detection for myocardial injury. However, every study touting the benefits of improved sensitivity has begrudgingly or worse acknowledged the correspondingly diminished specificity.
This, then, is a randomized trial of reporting either a conventional troponin assay result or a high-sensitivity troponin assay result, with a multitude of patient-oriented short- and long-term outcomes measured. The specific assays used here were either a c-TnT with a threshold of detection of 30 ng/L, or a hs-TnT with a threshold of detection of 3 ng/L. Clinicians caring for patients were randomized to making care decisions based on one, without knowledge of the other.
For all the various propaganda for and against high-sensitivity troponins, this trial is highly anticlimactic. There were, essentially, no changes in physician behavior resulting from the additional information provided by the more sensitive assay. No fewer patients were admitted, similar numbers of ultimate downstream tests occurred, and there were no reliable differences in long-term cardiac or combined endpoint outcomes.
The only outcome of note is probably consistent with what we already knew: any circulating troponin portends worse outcomes. This may be most helpful in directing the long-term medical management of those whose troponin levels were previously undetectable with a conventional assay; these patients clearly do not have the same virtually-zero risk as a patient with undetectable troponin levels. Indeed, troponin levels alone were a better predictor of long terms outcomes than the Heart Foundation Risk Stratification, as well.
I’ll let Judd Hollander sum it up in his most concise – with a link to much more verbose – terms:
Any troponin is worse than no troponin.
More troponin is worse than less troponin.
Doesnt get any easierhttps://t.co/xIudcCwUEe
— Judd Hollander (@JuddHollander) June 27, 2016
“Randomized Comparison of High-Sensitivity Troponin Reporting in Undifferentiated Chest Pain Assessment”